Overview

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #1

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Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #1

Credits

  • Words: Jason Aaron
  • Art: Andy Kubert
  • Inks: Mark Morales w/ Dexter Vines
  • Colors: Justin Ponsor
  • Story Title: Another Fine Mess, Part One
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: 3.99
  • Release Date: May 7, 2010

Bucking expectations, Aaron crafts a story about these two men that is outlandish and unexpected, but familiar in the context of the Marvel Universe.

Jason Aaron shows us a skill not often associated with his previous series. I'm talking, of course, about the amount of unadulterated whimsy contained within these pages. Accentuated with Adam Kubert's near perfect pencils, this isn't a grim and gritty crime drama or a slick and violent Punisher tale. This is a bright, inventive and (literally) timeless story involving two of Marvel's most recognizable characters, Spider-Man and Wolverine.

Beginning hundreds of millions of years in the past, Peter Parker, perched upon a giant spire, looks out into the night sky with a makeshift telescope. He's battered, bearded and worn, looking for something every night, hoping not to find anything but stars.

Aaron uses this displaced Parker as an opportunity to reconcile many of the contradicting factors of his persona. Peter is a Beta Male with Alpha capabilities, a walking enigma. The fact that he's chosen to live on the outskirts of any civilization on this distant land and study every facet of it supports the scientist in him. Regardless, the situation he has found himself in is a direct result of his chosen heroic lifestyle.

Meanwhile, his erstwhile compatriot, the epitome of an Alpha bruiser, is a slave to his instinct. Wolverine quickly takes on the cause of protecting a neanderthal village and has been for months. Six Claw, as he's known by the natives, has taught them how to defend themselves, against Peter's objections. You try explaining the butterfly effect to an indestructible and feral killing machine that gets annoyed by your every word.

This is just the set-up. The rest of the issue moves back and forward through time, showing us how our heroes arrived, also alluding to their shared time together and feelings about one another. At the end of the day, Aaron is able to show us just how different the two are, but also points out some of their larger similarities. He utilizes an inner monologue for both characters. Their thoughts mirror each other, but in a very distinct way, making this an absolute pleasure to read.

In a very non-cheesy way, the writer succinctly defines each hero and reminds us why we love them. He also proves that they're a great team without ever saying it. Both possess a specific set of skills, but always seem to fight for the same side. They really are the Marvel U's Odd Couple, sighing in disgust when one of them enters the scene, but the first to fight beside the other.

We can gush on and on about the words, but most of their magic would be null and void without the steady hand of Adam Kubert. Son of Joe and brother to Andy, Adam shines brighter than any preconceived notion with the work he handed in on this project. His line is clean and seemingly simple, but he overlaps that simplicity with some of the most intricate of details. The end result is a depth of field that is just beautiful.

Inkers Mark Morales and Dexter Vines with colorist Justin Ponsor complement Kubert's sensibilities, not overshadowing the pencils in any way. There is a single panel that comes to mind, illustrating the way this whole creative team melds perfectly. The panel in question is depicting Wolverine walking down an alley towards a criminal. The sun is behind him creating an effect over his body, partially in shadow and partially lit up, looking almost reflective. The details of his costume peek through with color. It's menacing, vibrant and filled with attitude. This issue is filled with small moments like this, crafting a richer experience beyond the cash grab of throwing your icons on a marquee.

Marvel is making a big push for this new line of Astonishing titles, reminiscent of DC's All Star experiment a few years ago. If they keep it relatively exclusive and assemble creative teams as talented and complementary of each other as this one, then the Astonishing brand may some day be enough to just try a book -- a clear sign of quality when it comes to Marvel's marquee characters.

All together now, let's chant... Avoid the cash grab, avoid the cash grab.... Keep it good, keep it good. 

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